tips to lead a remote marketing team

4 tips to lead a world-class remote marketing team

The accelerated digital transformation during the pandemic made it possible for business leaders worldwide to appreciate the benefits and opportunities of remote working. And why not! After all, remote working allows employees to spend less time commuting and more flexibility, leading to improved job satisfaction.

For employers, it means improved employee retention and productivity and reduced overhead costs. 

Here are some eyebrow-raising stats on remote working!

  • In a Workforce Futures survey, 83 percent of respondents shared that they don’t need an office to be productive.
  • A FlexJobs report reveals that remote working boosts employee morale and productivity. 75 percent of virtual employees report fewer distractions when working remotely. 

Also, 74 percent reported fewer interruptions from colleagues and 71 percent had reduced stress related to commuting. 

  • A Softchoice Research Study revealed that 74 percent of employees would quit their current company for a firm that offers a better work from home policy.
  • Remote working is great for the bottom line! Firms like AT&T reported saving $30 million a year on real estate alone. Dell cited saving over $12 million a year from their telework initiative. 

The novelty of COVID-19 has long worn off. Yet, 67 percent of organizations plan to continue with the remote-working culture either permanently or in the long term.

However, a remote employee doesn’t just need a WiFi connection, time-tracking apps, and video conferencing platforms. The marketing team works in close coordination with the leader to suitably position the business in the market and work towards achieving the organization’s vision.

Being away from the workplace can make the team lose sight of the organizational objectives and vision. 

Therefore, remote marketing teams need a strong leader who can inspire them to achieve their marketing goals and keep them aligned with the vision. Here’s what you can do to effectively lead your remote team of marketing professionals. 

1. Stop being a micro-manager

At times, remote leadership can bring out the worst in the best of the leaders. Check out this Bloomberg article, for instance.  

Such control and pressure tactics often backfire in a remote work environment. Further, they may portray you as a leader who’s adopting poor management practices to ‘get the work done.’ Worse still, it negatively impacts the company culture, employee morale, and work productivity.

Effective remote leadership isn’t about spying. It’s about setting clear priorities and expectations, establishing a strategic direction, and trusting your remote marketing team to adhere to them. Develop SMART goals and hold your team accountable for achieving them. Focus on the outcomes and stop micromanaging. 

Having said that, establish clear expectations on how the team is supposed to communicate and collaborate remotely. Here are a few points to bear in mind. 

  • What are the expected working hours for each employee? Will there be overlapping working hours for teammates in different time zones?
  • If a team member needs to be offline due to some reason, how will that be communicated?
  • How will it be communicated when an employee is feeling unwell and needs to take some time off?
  • How will you and other team members know when not to disturb a colleague?
  • What’s the expected response time to messages? This will vary depending on the message that’s sent, the information one seeks, and the employee’s time zone. 
  • When will the team be available online for real-time collaboration?

Your priority as a remote leader is to ensure that the communication channels and mode of work are clear to all, allowing them to contribute positively to the business objectives. But a word of caution here! Don’t completely let go. Avoid letting your team set their schedules and communication styles as it may lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication. 

2. Revamp your communication strategy

Business leaders managing marketing personnel are often used to an open-door policy at work. Therefore, working virtually presents new struggles and fears that may negatively impact their morale and motivation. 

For instance, your marketing team that was once gung-ho about the business strategies and objectives may now have questions about the direction of the company, what’s expected of them, or whether a project is on hold.

On the other hand, your schedule as a manager or team leader is tight with tasks like transforming daily operations, onboarding new team members, and managing customers. This can make it tough to give the required attention to your team’s concerns. 

Remote working demands a change in your communication style. Here are a few tips to consider. 

Go for the Virtual Scrum Meet

Remember the daily scrum most agile teams held at the workplace? A daily scrum is a 15-minute time-boxed event held each day to inspect work progress and improve team collaboration and performance. The only difference is that now it’ll be virtual. 

Make the scrum meet a part of the work routine to touch base with the team and keep the communication consistent. This will also help you understand your team’s top concerns and assure them of being heard. 

Read this post by Status Hero for effective tips on how to run a virtual scrum meet.

Improve team bonding with the Traffic Light Approach

The idea is to let your team use the colors red (Not confident), green (Great! On track to achieve a goal), and amber (unsure) to express their moods, energy levels, and emotions. This will help you get a quick idea of how your team feels about coming to work or a particular objective.

When the entire team shows up online at work, ask how they feel. As a leader, you can start the exercise to demonstrate openness and vulnerability. If time allows, encourage people to provide a quick context. Keep the session short and sharp. 

The traffic light system can improve team bonding, a deep understanding of the organization protocols, and appreciation for each person’s role in the marketing team. Further, you get a sense of the collective happiness of your remote team. 

Be a visible remote leader

The office environment is a critical part of an employee’s ongoing learning and development. Brick-and-mortar workplaces offered multiple opportunities for seniors and colleagues to share informal feedback and resolve various work issues during coffee breaks. 

Remote employees don’t have such opportunities; hence, you have to put in extra effort to understand their challenges. Make yourself accessible to the team! Set a specific time in the day when your team can call or chat with you. 

Going out of your way to establish a consistent proactive communication with your team can help maximize your remote team’s productivity. If you need guidance on successfully managing a distributed team refer to this remote work guide from Toptal. This comprehensive remote management playbook methodically describes how companies can develop and sustain a successful, thriving remote workforce.

3. Don’t forget to celebrate success

Working in-person offers innumerable opportunities for employee engagement and celebrations. Your remote marketing team needs to see the same energy when objectives are achieved or a tough customer is cracked. Remember to begin your meetings by celebrating success and recognizing the efforts of your team. 

For instance, you can touch upon the following points – 

  1. What was achieved since the last time the team got together?
  2. The employees who are overperforming or superseding the objectives this week.
  3. How did a performing team member get there? Did they use any tactics to generate leads or achieve the KPIs?

Allowing your marketing team to brag about their achievements can inspire other team members and motivate them to achieve more.

4. Invest in your team’s professional development

Regardless of how skilled or experienced your marketing team is, it’s critical to sharpen their saw and upgrade them on the industry-specific skills and knowledge. 

New research by the Association of Talent Development reveals that organizations investing heavily in employee learning have 218 percent higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. Moreover, continuous training is a motivating factor for employees that take them closer to their goals.

Training your remote marketing team will not just contribute to their professional expertise but also create a clear performance management system. For instance, you can use the training program to set specific professional development and performance targets, allowing them to take ownership of their performance.

As a remote leader, one of your prime responsibilities is to help your team perform to the best of its ability. Sharpen your marketing team’s skills by investing in remote training programs. 

Summing up

The remote working scenario has changed leadership dynamics. Business leaders now find themselves working with distributed or dispersed teams operating from multiple locations. This transition from in-office to a dispersed team isn’t easy, especially when it comes to managing a remote marketing team. 

The motivated and well-managed marketing team can be a huge asset to an organization. They not only contribute to the bottom line but also uphold the firm’s vision and mission. Now that most of the marketing teams are working remotely, it’s all the more critical for businesses to change their leadership style, such that the team is motivated and aligned with the organization’s goals. 

Use the tips shared in this post to effectively lead your marketing team and steer them towards achieving the business goals.

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This post was written by Gaurav Belani, a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing. He likes sharing his knowledge in a wide range of domains ranging from marketing to human capital management and much more. His work is featured in several authoritative business publications. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter at @belanigaurav.

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